ESPN's return to the Indian television market is set for January 17 as leading Indian TV network Sony announced the launch of its two new sports channels, Sony ESPN and Sony ESPN HD, in collaboration with ESPN.
The programming line-up on the SONY ESPN channels boasts of major football competitions like UEFA Euro 2016, the 2018 FIFA World Cup as well as ongoing seasons of the Spanish La Liga, the Italian Serie A and the Emirates FA Cup.
The development of ESPNcricinfo's programming is also likely to complement the coverage of major cricket tournaments on Sony ESPN and the already existing Sony Six channel, which airs the IPL in India.
Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) and ESPN will also launch a new multi-sport digital website and app to complement the existing leadership it already enjoys in the digital space with ESPNcricinfo and Sony LIV.
"SPN's collaboration with ESPN is a targeted step in the direction to focus the network as a leading choice in TV and digital entertainment," SPN CEO NP Singh said while addressing the media at an event in Mumbai. "Not only that, the launch of the Sony ESPN cluster of channels validates our intent to provide stylised, high quality and insightful sporting content to viewers in India and across the sub-continent."
Speaking on behalf of ESPN, Vice President and GM Asia Pacific, Mike Morrison, said: "For more than 35 years, ESPN has been known for its quality, personality and authority. The launch of these new channels, and the complimentary digital properties in the months ahead, creates a world class multi-media stage to deliver amazing content and products to Indian fans."
Ramesh Kumar, Vice President, ESPN India and South Asia, expected Indian fans to benefit from the partnership. "This launch is a great day for Indian sports fans. The launch of SONY ESPN and SONY ESPN HD channels is a first step as part of our collaboration with SPN, coming at a time when the sports media landscape in India is expanding and consumers demand for quality content is on the rise."
The newly launched SONY ESPN channels will kick off the 2016 tennis season with live coverage of the year's first grand slam, the Australian Open, starting January 18.